Michael Jackson was undeniably the one of, if not the most, exhilarating and entertaining pop stars of the 20th century. He was an entertainer who amazed audiences everywhere with his dance and music – talent that transcended all race, gender, age and religion. One who used his astounding fame and fortune to help make the world a better place, donating over $300 million to charities during his lifetime. He was always one who constantly strived for greatness and to take his craft to the next level, cementing himself in pop culture history along the way.
How did Michael Jackson break away from his peers to become the star that shines brighter than everyone else? Whose work has managed to stand the test of time, continue to make and break records whilst also still recruiting generation after generation of admirers? He had a tactic to develop his craft, one that has proven to work time and time again.
“Believe in yourself. Study the greats and become greater” – Michael Jackson
Study the greats and become greater. James Brown, Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin, Sammy Davis Jr… these are just some of history’s greatest performers of whom Michael Jackson studied over and over since he was a child. He would learn their craft, absorb as much information about their passion and craft as he could and then use that information to shape his own talents into something truly unique. MJ indulged in all sorts of creative endeavours – film, art, music, poetry, dance, fashion… whilst he would study these he managed to develop himself, his performance, his art.. into his own style, one that has influenced countless generations after him.
If you blatantly copy somebody, that isn’t impressive, that’s stealing. However if you take influences from multiple sources and create your own thing, like Jackson did… that’s art. The magical footwork, the stage presence, the music… MJ took all of this in bites from the artists before him and moulded them into his own work. He ended up with his own style of dance that captivated the world, he created his own signature fashion that still echoes today in outfits worn by some of the world’s biggest pop stars. Michael Jackson would simply look at what came before him, take out the bad parts, absorb the good parts and on top of that say to himself “now how can I go one step further than they did and make it even better?”.
You can see this approach taken by many content creators today. Michael Jackson is one of the greats that this generation will be studying, along with the generations after us. Content creators will learn from his hits and misses and try to use it to develop their own craft and careers. If we are lucky enough to receive somebody else who is even HALF as good at absorbing the craft of those before them, turning the technique and passion something individual whilst managing to retain what made it great to begin with… we have a lot to look forward too.
RIP Michael Jackson. Long live the king.